Here’s why you need a postpartum plan

You’ve taken a prenatal class, packed your hospital bag and installed the carseat—but have you thought about what you’ll do when baby’s actually here? A postpartum plan can help ease the transition to parenthood.

By Avie Herman July 16, 2021

woman holding her sleeping newborn baby

You’ve taken a prenatal class, packed your hospital bag and installed the carseat. You’re all set and ready to meet your baby! But have you thought about what you’ll do when they actually get here?

Just like creating a birth plan can help set you up for a positive birth experience, creating a postpartum plan can help ease your transition into parenthood.

What is a postpartum plan?

A postpartum plan is a set of preferences for the early weeks and months after your little one arrives, which can include decisions like parental leave, feeding, sleep, household chores, self-care and mental health concerns.

Whether you write it down or simply discuss it with your partner or support system, considering your options early can help parents feel more prepared in the first days and weeks postpartum and ensure that they’re on the same page.

“As with birth plans, seeing it more as a guide versus something that’s completely set in stone is key,” says Alex Weinberger, a certified doula and co-owner of several Ontario doula agencies.

Why should I make a postpartum plan?

Once your baby arrives, you’ll be caring for a newborn while recovering from giving birth, all on very little sleep. Since life with a new baby can be unpredictable, it’s important to consider not only your preferences but also your options if things don’t go according to plan. This helps to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Weinberger explains that oftentimes, her clients also have very different ideas than their partners about how things will go or what’s important to them. It’s much easier to sort out these differences and find a middle ground before the baby arrives, when sleep can be scarce and the stakes feel much higher.

It can also help you clarify your vision for what kind of support you’ll want and help you communicate that to your friends and family, so everyone can get on the same page.

Before you start planning

Educate yourself about the postpartum period, normal newborn behaviour, sleep, parental leave options and your feeding method of choice, so you know all your options and have realistic expectations. It’s much easier to make a plan if you know what you’re planning for.

If you plan on breast- or chestfeeding, it’s a good idea to take a class before your baby arrives, according to Angela Grant Buechner, president of the Canadian Lactation Consultant Association.

“I wish more people would learn more about breastfeeding and actual baby care before the baby comes, because it’s really hard to learn that stuff on Google in the middle of the night when you’re crying and your nipples hurt,” she says.

In addition to a lactation consultant, make a list of all the support people you may need in the first few months and decide who you’ll use ahead of time, so it’s easier to get in touch if issues arise—these can include a sleep consultant, postpartum doula, carseat technician and therapist. Research whether your benefits plan reimburses for things like mental health therapy, lactation consultants, or even sleep consultants. Put the important numbers on the fridge or send them to your partner so you can offload some of the research and emotional labour, and decide who will keep tracks of appointment dates like checkups for mom and baby.

What should I include in my postpartum plan?

Here are a few key things to learn about, discuss and plan for in order to set yourself up for a smoother postpartum period:


Newborns eat frequently and keeping them fed will be one of your main responsibilities in the first few months.

Some things to consider:

  • What are your thoughts around feeding?
  • How do you feel about giving a pacifier?
  • Is the plan to chest- or breastfeed? To bottle feed? To combo feed?
  • If you offer a bottle or need to supplement, will you use breast milk or formula?
  • Are you planning to pump? Will you buy, borrow or rent a pump? When do you plan to start pumping?

You should also consider how committed you are to each of your preferences and what you’ll do if you run into issues.

If you’re hoping to breastfeed, Grant Beuchner recommends choosing and connecting with a lactation consultant before the baby arrives. This makes it easier to reach out as soon as issues arise, so you can resolve them more quickly.

It’s also a good idea to set up a bottle- or breastfeeding station on each floor of your house, with everything you’ll need, since you’ll spend a lot of time feeding your baby in the early weeks.


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